I'd say that we've only eaten out about three times since for the past 1.5 months. It's been incredibly easy to be vegan on the road, but of course I love to cook too. To your left is a dish I never would have liked at 18, at least the green part.
Sesame udon noodles with kale, with a slab of breaded seitan on the side.
Note the chipped plate. While traveling, we've tried our best to avoid two things, product-wise: losing stuff and breaking stuff. There have been a few near misses, which I blame on Syba & Rob (only because they don't have blogs to counter these assertions...perhaps this will inspire Rob to jumpstart his blog).
Speaking of authority, I'm having some trouble lately with bureaucracies. One of them is a calling card. I bought this little card in Atlanta and have been recharging it to make calls to Greece ever since. About two weeks ago, when I dialed my dad's number, rather than him, random people would answer and hang up. I began to worry that something happened to my dad. Perhaps due to my propensity to discover drama in hidden places, I conjured up all sorts of scenarios to explain why other people were answering his phone. To make it worse, the people sounded like they were crying. Finally, I called the customer service number.
They informed me that Sprint sold the card to STI, and many people were unable to get through. Since that time, I have tried calling dad many times, each time reaching a random person that is not dad. I called customer service today, and she said I must be dialing the number wrong. She refused to refund my money and kept insisting that I just need to keep dialing.
Now, folks, I don't know if you've ever been in the situation, maybe when calling for technical support? You insist something is wrong, and they feed you a premade line as if you're an idiot who must have forgotten to plug in your computer, or, in this case, have olive oil on your fingers causing slips and misdials. The woman did offer to hang up on me if I kept yelling, which was thoughtful as I need to preserve my vocals for tonight's show.
In my last post, I mentioned Weston being taken in for an oil change and checkup. The first shop was unable to work on his stalling issue, and recommended this exclusively VW place (picture above).
As you can see, the owner is fond of VWs and collects them, without discrimination, on his lot. There were newer Westfalias and of course the rusted versions. For a moment I worried that he wasn't really a shop and he'd try to take Weston hostage for his collection, but this concern dissipated once Rob got the keys to Weston. $500 later, he was all fixed up, starting when asked, not stalling randomly, and "purring" as Rob said.
I was hoping to report that Weston, after his minor trips and stumbles, has been well-behaved over these past two weeks. But as of a couple of days ago, his right toe started to squeak. We're speculating optimistically that it's just the rain.
In Milwaukee, we were quite excited to discover vegan cake (labeled!) in Whole Foods. This “cookies 'n cream” version was made by the Chicago Diner. I wasn't fond of the cake style, though I know many who like the stiff wet sponge oily texture. But the frosting was pretty good. I've heard other Chicago Diner cakes like the chocolate chip vegan cheesecake is amazing, though, so I bought another type of CD cake, this time the Chocolate Mousse version. This picture was taken by Rob:
It was quite good - fluffy frosting atop a thick, choclatey body. I recommend it. We punctuated the cake with some Rice Divine chocolate chip cream.
Syba has adjusted a litte more to the rhythm of this trip. That is, wake up, exercise, breakfast, road, leafleting/library, walk, dinner-lunch, show/screening, find someplace to camp, and other stuff in between. But she still cannot accept a seat anywhere else but in the front of the van. She devises clever ways to make this happen, like squeeze her body between the door and seat until she's all the way up there, or jump over our suitcase barrier. So the minute we leave the front she is happy to take over. I'm not sure exactly why she is so intent on being up here, because she has windows that open in the back, and her bed, and of course her bear.
Upon meeting new people she continues to venture into the van to display her bear. Above, she placed (him?) next to her food during breakfast.
I screened my film at Broad Vocabulary, a feminist bookstore, in Milwaukee. I always feel so overwhelmed when I'm around all these books I will never get to read.
Also screened my film at the 8th note in Milwaukee. Unlike other university screenings, I did not see any of the posters I sent up, so Rob put this one up over the movie trivia notice.
We were supposed to play there the Saturday prior as well, but the organizer forgot about the show. We needed a good rest anyway.
Here I am screening at the University of Illinois in Champaigne-Urbana...NOT Chicago. I thought it was Chicago up until the night before, but luckily this was clarified and we allowed the extra 1.5 hours to get there.
In the real Chicago, I screened at the Experimental Station, which is like BCHQ on fertility treatments and run by one woman and her husband, primarily.
My little display that I set up at screenings looked very fancy with the vases provided by the ES.
The woman who runs the space kindly gave us a bag of green lentils which she gets in bulk (“The French lentils hold their integrity in soup better than the orange variety”). Her sons, around 10 and 12, attended the screening as well. Afterward, she was telling me how much she cooks lentils, when discussing eating less meat. When she left to grab the bag of green lentils, her older son said to me, “The ironic thing is, she puts ground beef in the lentil soup.”
Apparently the entire Experimental Station burnt down a few years back. This did not deter these folks, who, rather than selling the lot to developers, built it right back up again. Amazing space with logs for posts and a garden you can get lost in outside. A restaurant with vegan options is attached, and a bike shop that was very coop-esque. The screening was a pick in the free shit section of the Chicago Reader.
Nothing like free soy-cream sundaes to get folks to your screening. At my U of Chicago screening, the folks at the Veg Society of Chicago were kind enough to provide us with Chicago Soy Dairy soy-cream in two flavors, cookie dough and mint chocolate chip. The brand, Temptation, is even better than So Delicious. Creamy, light, delicious. Notice Rob in the line (wasn't his first time in line...he may or may not have shoved aside smaller individuals ala George in this Seinfeld episode).
Here is a blurry picture of me talking at the same screening, the taking of which was perhaps impacted by the amount of sugar Rob consumed.
The Veg Society folk gave us a nice present from the same Chicago Dairy company, Teese:
I forget what flavors the main cheeses have...cheddar and monterey, right? This was the white flavor. Though I don't miss cheese at all, I've been curious to try Teese ever since I read about it on Isa's blog. It does in fact melt and taste what I believe to be cheese-like. We made grilled Teeses, fried up in Earth Balance spread:
Quite good. Also made Mac & Teese. My conclusion is I don't really need this or any other cheese to make something taste good n' creamy. Except maybe Tofutti cream cheese, used in lasagne alfredo or Tzatziki dip. But Teese is great for grilled sandwiches.
I did find the best Tahini I have ever had in my life. Rich and perfectly roasted, I will never experience Tahini the same again after tasting these fine little crushed sesame delights. You can see here that I scraped the jar to ensure all contents were put to use.
It's made in Michigan, I think. I took the picture so I'd remember to buy it again.
Rob got a scrap book to record details of our year tour, including scraps of paper, maps, and 3-D glasses.
This is the approved image he let me use for the blog. Displayed for you is his signature drawing, some sort of pirate ship, usually with an anchor and a little man in a rowboat who escaped; but this time, you'll see he just went all Seagulls.
It was a little overwhelming in Chicago, with quite a few veg options. We've only eaten out twice, I think, but we wanted to try either the Chicago Diner, Soul Veg, Karyn's Cooked, or Veggie Bite. The latter was most convenient to our Walmart campsite, so we went there after a screening.
We could just taste the Philly Cheesesteak sub. To our dismay, a big sign on the door read, “closed for Yom Kippur.” Soul Veg was also closed for this holiday. Makes sense due to the fasting aspect of Yom Kippur. But we had fasted for hours unintentionally and were quite hungry.
We made it back the next day, and had the BBQ nuggets (5 stars out of 5) Gyros (3 stars out of 5, IF we are comparing it to the unforgettably indescribably delicious Gyros of Hillside Quickies), and Cheesesteak sandwich (2.5 stars).
We were still hungry, so Rob ordered the nachos (1.5 stars). They were no Vlacho Nacho.
The area of town we were in was sort of gentrifying, but it seemed that most businesses had given up on the idea of cleaning up graffiti on their windows as you can see here. This was the North end, or Wicker Park.
Speaking of gentrification, today Rob and I were confronted by a man working for Animal Control. This was right after we came back from walking Syba along this bikepath:
(Minneapolis, by the way, is one of the most bike-friendly city...except for the part where temperatures are below 0).
We were feeling great about the neighborhood until this interaction: He asked if our dog had been running loose. He said that it really was a problem in the area with one dog in the neighborhood. He warned us that we need to never let her off the leash, and the implications of doing so.
This was in a trendy area in Minneapolis near where we're playing tonight. We assured him Syba was ala leash, and he left, but it made me think about the cost of "cleaning up" a neighborhood.
Neighbors can be so focused on keeping the area under control that you lose some basic rights to exist freely.
I'm not suggesting that dogs should be running around off leash -- that's certainly dangerous for the dog traffic-wise -- but there is a point when oversight becomes militaristic and soon your shrubs must be uniform. Maybe I'm slippery-slopin' here, but there is a price paid for a funky-fancy 'hood. I hope our neighborhood of Cleveland Holloway never becomes this intense.
When I was booking screenings, one student told me that if my band ever wanted to play a living room floor in Chicago, to let her know. I let her know, and we played this really fun show at a loft apartment near the university. Some fun folks from the Chicago Veg Society attended and we met the DJ Stevo Doppalganger (red shirt, below).
He has some awesome one-liners and danced to all our songs thrash bang style, as well as bounce-bang. We shared the bill with DJ Sex Nerd, who was kind enough to lend us his PA and mic stands.
The apartment was amazing and made me want to live in a space just like it. A series of students and tenants have rotated through the space, but a previous tenant built the stage in the living room, complete with light holes and a curtain backdrop. One tenant lives in a small closet-sized space, curtained off, across from the stage.
We used his metal pole as a 2nd mic stand. Note to BB: bring mic stands and TWO mics next tour. Though the rope worked fairly well.
Have you ever heard of the Japanese Beetle? Neither had I. We were in Wisconsin, at a beautious rest stop, and I just got through reading about the vanishing “tall grass” of the Wisconsin prairies. Of course, I'm a sucker for anything about prairies as some of you might know.
I noticed all these bugs flying around a partial tall-grass and flowered prairie at the stop, and thought how nice it was that there was all of this natural life here. Then I began to see these lady-bug like creatures landing on me, and just about everything else. I asked the rest stop attendant about them, and it is a familiar story. Years ago, he said, they were brought in to control aphids blighting crops. Of course, they had no natural enemies/predators here, and thus overpopulated as you see in this picture.
From a quick bit of research, I'm thinking that these are “Asian Lady Beetles” rather than the Japanese Beetle. Whatever they were, it was quite creepy ala The Birds, and we had to quickly shut our doors and shuttle them out of the van to make a quick escape. According to the man, they bite. Those fearsome words were enough to make me reconsider the whole prarie thing.
We were headed up to Duluth, Minnesota, due to meeting of Dan at our April CD release (Joe of Megafaun's brother). Their mom must have been in a percussion ensemble while carring both brothers, because Dan, like his brother Joe, is also a most sensitive and dynamic drummer. His band, Gleam, a wonderful mix of down-tempo cello-drum harmony, played their last show that night.
Before Gleam, Minneapolis' Rod Walen played a nice jazzed up set.
Beaners was a great veune that has been open about 10 years, per the owner, Jason.
We found folks in Duluth to be very laid back and friendly. It was almost a different world with the biting cold from Lake Superior and the steep hills circling the city.
The next day, we took some of Dan's recommendations and walked along the lake.
Syba was happy to be out of the van. I'm thinking this next picture can make us a little money once she begins her modeling career.
Except her teeth make her look a little funny. But I understand that these things can be touched up.
Fall is Rob's favorite season. It's okay, but I'm definitely more of a Spring person. I suppose that's predictable - who doesn't like new flowers, warmer air, the promise of summer vacations, etcetera?
In any case, the leaf changing thing has been nice to look at. Even though they are just dying.
After our walk, we followed another of Dan's recommendations and went to Fitger's. Rob had the hot spicy chile beer. The waitress asked him to sample it first. We both tried it. I don't like beer, but I'd drink it again. It stung the back of your throat as if you'd swallowed cayenne pepper. But for some reason, you wanted more.
As might be evident, Rob was a little tipsy after the beer. We haven't had a lot of drinks on this tour, so tolerance is lower. I had only had a taste, so I drove.
We've been in Minnesota for awhile now. I've screened my film almost every night. I screened for a 75 student Philosophy class last Tuesday, and it went very well, with students asking a lot of questions following the screening.
This is a picture taken on our way to the Whole Music Club, where we played a show at the U of Minneapolis. We played with Lookbook:
and Solid Gold:
It was a pretty fun show, but the best time we had hanging out with Grant & Maggie of Lookbook after the show. They are up there in the nice people list of folks we want to stay in contact with. They might be playing a show in Seattle in December - stay tuned.
I made some seitan with mac alfredo the other day. I coated the seitan with garlic flakes and nutritional yeast. It was delicious.
It really makes things a lot cheaper and tastier to be able to cook in Weston. We've been practicing on little eleni and little rob, making new songs, but there really hasn't been a lot of time for that.
Also as part of this tour, we went down to Mankato, where we screened the film with the MSU Animal Concerns group.
They were awesomely inspired and fun students - so I think they will do great things. They are the kind of vegans that make folks wanna maybe join the group.
I think as an activist you need to be well-balanced and participate in non-activist activities to nurture your actin' self. But I really admire people who take the time to do something outside of themselves. Making New Years resolutions about something other than our own health.
We also screened at St. Cloud, with Animent (Animals & Environment). One student began this group, and is doing a great job getting it together. I was interviewed by the school paper, and they published an article about the screening as well.
We're off to South Dakota tomorrow for a Monday screening with the Friends of Wisdom Philosohpy Club.